Goal 13: Climate Action
How Young People Would Solve The Climate Crisis
A recent survey found 60% of young people are deeply worried about the climate crisis. We asked ten under-18s for their brilliant solutions
By emma elms
29 october 2021
When the world’s most powerful leaders are being all ‘blah blah blah’ about climate action, sometimes it’s time to bring in the big guns. So we recruited ten enlightened young people to tell us what they think are the most pressing climate issues right now and how they would solve them. Will the esteemed guests of COP26 take note of how the next generation would conquer the energy crisis, deforestation, plastic pollution and more? Now step aside…
Jasmine, 14: ‘Make changes as a family’
“I’m very, very worried about the climate crisis. At school we learned that by 2050 we need to have really good defences against storms and floods because there’s going to be tons of those. That’s just scary! It’s hard for young people to do that much when their parents are in charge, but anyone who is concerned about the environment should talk to their parents to see if they can make changes as a family, like how much they use their car. We’ve started to eat less meat and have fake meat instead, we don’t waste food and we hardly ever use the car. We mostly walk or cycle everywhere.”
Lewis, 11: ‘I’ve invented a hydrogen-electric car’
“I worry about air pollution because I have asthma and sometimes I can feel when certain areas are more polluted than others. I’ve always wanted to be an engineer/designer and cars fascinate me so during lockdown I decided I wanted to design a car that’s half-electric and half-powered by hydrogen. I sketched it all out and learned a lot about how hydrogen works in cars. Teslas are fully automatic, but by the time I can drive hopefully all the big brands will be electric.
“My biggest concern about the environment is that things aren’t being acted on quickly enough. People are trying to do things to help but we’re not changing fast enough. Watching Blue Planet and seeing all the glaciers melting was really sad.”
Lali, 7: ‘Stop throwing rubbish in the sea’
“I try not to think about the environment every night but it’s really hard and I’m worried about it. I think we should all join Greta to persuade people to stop making the environment worse. People shouldn’t be throwing rubbish in the sea because the turtles can’t breathe with plastic bags around their heads. We went to Scotland over the summer and I saw a lot of rubbish on the beach.”
Amelia, 16: ‘Develop more renewable energy’
“My three biggest concerns about the environment are carbon dioxide emissions, deforestation and polar ice caps melting. The use of electric cars would help, along with less consumption of meat – I know cows are a big factor in methane emissions. We should be actively trying not to use so much electricity too. Instead of fossil fuels which are harmful to the environment, we should be using more solar, wind turbines and tidal power. We also need more research into other forms of renewable energy like Nuclear Fusion. I’ve watched Greta Thunberg on YouTube and she’s saying what a lot of the younger generation are thinking.”
Florence, 10: ‘Stop buying so much plastic’
Photograph by @clairelongphotography
“I’m worried about the environment. On a scale of one to ten, I’m about seven and a half. Sometimes I worry that if I buy something on the internet and it’s plastic, in a couple of years’ time I probably won’t want it any more, then it will have to go to a place where all the plastic goes! Plastic takes thousands of years to get rid of, so then eventually it will go into the sea and I don’t want all the creatures to die. I think the problem could be solved by not buying plastic and when you’re out and you’ve got plastic wrappers with you, you should use the bins provided."
Aiyven, 12: ‘Switch off your electrics’
“There are many little habits that people don’t realise are bad for the planet, like taking two showers a day when you only need one or leaving your phone charging. For instance, my piano teacher told me when you go out you should unplug your cooker and all your electrical things. There’s no need for it to be left on. These are just small solutions that don’t take any effort, but if everyone participated, it could help resolve many problems.”
Aiyven is an author
Millie, 14: ‘Supermarkets shouldn’t waste food’
“My biggest concern is the amount of food waste and how bad that is for the environment, like when a supermarket decides a vegetable isn’t good enough to be sold. I’ve read about how cauliflowers have to be this perfect size, otherwise they go to waste. It’s crazy because they’re perfectly edible. Supermarkets need to accept those imperfect foods and educate people that they shouldn’t just be choosing ‘perfect’ fruit and veg. My dad used to be a chef and is part of the Tooting Foodival which is all about cooking for the community with homegrown produce. Homegrown food never looks perfect!
“I saw Greta’s ‘blah blah blah’ speech and I thought it was amazing. A lot of people try to sugar-coat what they say, but I love the fact she is so honest. It’s very powerful and it does make a difference.”
Eleanor, 18: ‘Stick to the Paris Agreement’
“We’re in the Paris Agreement and there’s a big meeting coming up soon – COP26 – so it’s very important we’re sticking to that agreement, although I don’t think we are, actually! There are loads more policies the government could put in place to force companies to act more sustainably.
“I worry about rainforests too because the Amazon rainforest is the global carbon sink so if we’re cutting lots of trees down, then there’s going to be more carbon in the atmosphere and this will cause more heating. I think changing the government in Brazil would be the best thing to do!"
Jason, 9: ‘Drive less’
“Living in London, I worry about dirty air. We need to tackle it by using more electric cars, bikes, scooters and walking. People need to think about their actions – whether they pollute or not. I try to recycle as much as I can. The other thing that worries me is that sea levels are rising and the water could flood our houses.”
Sasha, 13: ‘Change the government’
“I think Greta Thunberg is really powerful, but I think the older generation should be stepping in as well, not just leaving it to younger generations. I feel like Boris Johnson is just trying to avoid and suppress the climate crisis. It will be a lot of money, time and work to try and fix it and I don’t think he’s capable of doing it. Especially during a pandemic, there’s a lot of stress on government leaders, but I definitely think there should be a change not only in government but also in corporations.
“Too much power is given to gas and oil companies. Fossil fuels will run out and do contribute to the greenhouse effect, so you can’t invest everything in them. In a Geography lesson we learnt that there was a solar farm in Mexico that was so huge it could power the whole of the EU. It’s like we’re not using everything we can.”
What did the climate survey find?
This study was the largest of kind with 10,000 people aged 16-25 being asked about their feelings over climate issues. The research was conducted by Bath University in collaboration with five universities, funded by the campaign and research group Avaaz.
60% of young people in the study said they felt very or extremely worried about climate change
Over 45% of those surveyed said their feelings about the climate affected their daily lives
75% said they thought the future was frightening
4 ways to help a child with climate anxiety
- Encourage them to turn their fear into a thirst for knowledge.
- Help them take positive action, by supporting campaigns they care about.
- Show them documentaries that offer solutions, not just doom and gloom.
- Suggest they apply for positions of responsibility at school like environmental champions, so they are turning their passion into purpose.